The New U: News Entrepreneurs Working through UNITY project announced today that its two 2014 seed grant winners have been selected based on a weighted judges vote (90%) combined with a crowd-sourced peer vote (10%).
After the public vote concluded, a panel of esteemed, anonymous industry judges reviewed all candidates’ submissions and revised video pitches, work they had improved after attending New U 2104 start-up camps. Each winner will receive $20,000 in seed grant money to help fund their business, said Co-Directors Alli Joseph and Doug Mitchell.
The 2014 winners are:
- DeShuna Spencer, Founder of “KweliTV”.
- Chris Dell, CEO/Founder of “Go Baller”
“I’m truly humbled and honored to receive this $20,000 grant from NewU,” said DeShuna Spencer. “The idea for kweliTV came to me after becoming frustrated with the negative images of blacks in the media and the lack of quality content on cable TV and streaming services. I think it is important for communities of color to control our images through media ownership. That’s why I am so excited about winning this grant.”
Chris Dell also shared his excitement. “”We at Go Baller are so thankful for this opportunity. Our team is more motivated than ever before to deliver a great product and to build a great business! I’d like to offer a personal thank you to Doug Mitchell, Alli Joseph, the Ford Foundation and UNITY: Journalists for Diversity. They created this, they were the founders and innovators of this special startup competition, and none of this would be possible without them. It’s time to take things to the next level!”
In 2014, seven companies attended one of two two-day “boot camps” to learn vital business skills and pitch their ideas to a group of mentors and guest entrepreneurship experts. The companies recorded their business pitches on video as part of their application to the program, and again to complete their participation in the competition. In November, UNITY and NewU asked members and the rest of the web community to vote for the best business concepts.
The NewU project delivers training boot camps and strategic mentorship to develop and nurture the entrepreneurship skills of journalists of color and prepare them for media business ownership. New U, in its fifth year, is a Ford Foundation-funded program and is administered by UNITY: Journalists for Diversity, Inc.
The New U project is intended to increase the number of innovative thinkers and product developers who are of color, providing them with a forum in which to develop and express innovative ideas. “Year to year, we adjust our programming to address the needs of the shifting entrepreneurial journalism industry,” said Alli Joseph, program co-Director. “Our New U fellows are the people we expect to see as strong leaders in the diverse start-up community over the next decade.”
For more information about the grant winners and their projects, go to: http://unityjournalists.org/newu/newu-2014/newu-2014-winners/
About UNITY: Journalists for Diversity
UNITY: Journalists for Diversity, an alliance of three journalism associations, is the nation’s most diverse journalism organization. A coalition of the Asian American Journalists Association, the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association and the Native American Journalists Association, UNITY is a strategic alliance advocating fair and accurate news coverage about people of color and LGBT issues and aggressively challenges news organizations to increase diversity in whom they employ at all levels of their companies.
For more information, visit www.unityjournalists.org or call (703) 854-3585.
About the Ford Foundation
The Ford Foundation is an independent, nonprofit grant-making organization. It is guided by its mission to strengthen democratic values, reduce poverty and injustice, promote international cooperation, and advance human achievement. With headquarters in New York, the foundation has offices in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.